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be the Son of God, with power, according to the spirit of holiness by the resurrection from the dead," as it stands in the Common Version, - speak the language of Trinitarianism, it is difficult to imagine. The passage is thus translated by the Professor, “ His Son (who was of the seed of David as to the flesh, [and] was constituted the Son of God, with power, as to his holy spiritual nature, after his resurrection from the dead), Jesus Christ our Lord.”
The passage may contain one or two phrases, the construction and meaning of which are somewhat doubtful, but the leading thought, the point, the drift of the whole, is, we conceive, quite obvious, and is the same which often occurs in the speeches and writings of the Apostles, though sometimes expressed in language of greater simplicity. The two prominent circumstances presented by the Apostle are, that Christ was of the lineage of David, and thus answered the prophetic description, and that he was the Messiah, or Son of God; the former “according to the flesh," that is, by natural descent, the latter by designation, of which the fact that he was raised from the dead by a divine energy, afforded proof or confirmation. These we believe are the main facts which St. Paul means to assert; and they are facts which are constantly asserted by him and the other Apostles. It was necessary, in order to the fulfilment of the old prophecies, that Christ should be of the posterity of David, and that Jesus was such, was constantly affirmed by the Apostles. But there was another fact on which they laid vastly more stress, and urged with greater frequency. It
was, that he was the Messiah or Christ, the Son of God, a spiritual king. Both these facts are alluded to by Peter in his speech, Acts ji. — “God had sworn with an oath to him (David] that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh," that is, by natural descent, “ he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne, 66 him hath God raised up,
66 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye crucified, both Lord and Christ.”
Both the facts, too, are alluded to by Paul in his speech at Antioch. Acts xii. 23, 30, 33.
“Of this man's seed hath God, according to his promise, raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus.” He adds, after recounting the circumstances of his crucifixion, “But God raised him from the dead." Again, “He hath raised up
Jesus again ; as it is also written in the second Psalm ; Thou art my son, this day have I begotten thee.” This language has a very striking resemblance to that of the Apostle in the Epistle to the Romans, in illustration of which we have adduced it. The leading facts, we repeat, are the same in both passages. Neither asserts any thing mysterious in regard to the nature of the Saviour. His character and office as the Messiab, the Son of God, a spiritual king, are mentioned, and, as was very natural, in connexion with the fact of his resurrection which prepared the way to his subsequent exaltation to great power and glory, he being made head over all things to the church.” Similar views are often inculcated and dwelt upon in the Epistles of Paul. We refer below to some passages which should be read in connexion with that under notice, by those who find any difficulty in believing that the Apostle has, in the latter, no reference whatever to a divinity of nature in Jesus, but only to his character and office as Messiah, and the power and dignity pertaining to that office, which are uniformly represented as the gift of the Father. *
The Professor, we think, is inclined to see much more in the passage than it really contains. He sets out, it would seem, with the impression, that it must have some latent and mysterious sense. One or two phrases which occur in it, as we have admitted, are in some degree obscure; still we maintain that the great and prominent facts the Apostle intends to assert are quite clear. These the Professor, as we think, in his attempts at minute criticism, overlooks, and having somehow taken up the notion that the doctrine of the divine and human natures in Christ must be recognised in the passage, he has labored with great ingenuity to extract it. We readily accord to him the praise of ingenuity, but a more perverse piece of elaborate criticism we hardly remember to have ever met with.
In the phrase, “according to the flesh," the Professor of course, finds a recognition of the human nature of Christ, as distinguished from his divine or “ Messianic"
nature, though he points to no example of such a use of the phrase. St. Paul, in chapter ix., verse 3, of the same Epistle, employs it to signify natural descent, when he speaks of his
Eph. i. 19-23. Phil. ii. 9-11. Col. i. 19. See also Acts v. 30, 31.
brethren, “ his kinsmen according to the flesh," and the laws of sound interpretation, we conceive, authorize us to attribute no other meaning to it here. It is a Jewish idiom, or mode of speech, the force of which was perfectly well understood at the time; but theologians have mystified every thing. *
The expression which, as the Professor supposes, stands in “contradistinction” to that just mentioned, is what is rendered in our version, “according to the spirit of holiness.” What does this phrase then mean? Does it designate Christ's divine nature as distinguished from his human? Not exactly so.
The Professor has the perspicacity to see the absurdity of this construction of the phrase in its present connexion. It designates his “pneumatic nature or condition.”
And what is his “pneumatic state, or condition, or nature"? It is “his exalted and glorious state or nature," by which the Professor means, not precisely his divine nature, but a sort of third nature, that is, his “Messianic,” which is a compound of the other two. This meaning of the phrase in question he thinks is supported by analogy; for in Hebrews ix. 14., “ Christ is said to have offered himself, in the heavenly temple, a spotless victim to God, in his everlasting pneumatic or glorified state”! + He gives as the meaning of the whole passage, “Of royal descent, even of David's lineage, as to his incarnate state ; the Son of God clothed with supreme dominion, in his pneumatic, that is, exalted and glorified state. I But what are we to understand by the phrase,
66 Son of God," in this connexion ? Is Jesus called Son of God, because God raised him from the dead, and exalted him to a spiritual kingdom, to a state of great dignity and power, as, in Jewish phraseology, David is said to have been begotten of God, that is, received into a state of peculiar affection and honor, when he was raised by him to a throne ? This does not satisfy Professor Stuart. * The most com
* If Christ had no other nature,” the Professor asks, page 376," why should such a distinction 'as is implied by sarà págra, be here designated”? But the same expression is applied to Paul in the passage above referred to. Does it indicate that he had any other nature” ? The above specimen of the Professor's mode of arguing shows, we think, that he had some reason for not professing to be “free from all prejudices of education, and all attachment to system.”
# pp. 68, 69.
I p. 70.
mon use of the phrase, Son of God," he says, “as applied to the Messiah, is to designate the high and mysterious relation, which subsisted between him and God the Father, by virtue of which he was, in his complex person, as Godman." “In this respect,” he adds, “ Son of God is rather a name of nature than of office, for it is predicated upon the high and glorious rixov, resemblance, similitude, which the son exhibits of the Father, he being the radiance of his glory.” This we believe to be incorrect, and the Professor himself seems to abandon the idea, the next moment, apparently without being aware of the circumstance. — “In particular," he says, “it would seem to be one design of the New Testament writers in using the appellation Son of God, to convey the idea of a most intimate connexion, love, and fellowship (so to speak), between him and the Father.”Í Here is no reference to his nature. Again, “ That God has given to Christ the spirit without measure, that he dwells in him owuatixws, that all counsels and secrets, (so to speak) of the divine Nature are perfectly known to him, seems to be suggested by the appellation Son of God, as frequently bestowed." I Here, again, is no allusion to the nature of Christ. The Professor sums up all by saying, “In this sense,” the appellation Son, as applied to Christ, “is most frequent in the New Testament, In what sense ? for he has enumerated several. First, the nature of Christ as Godman, “predicated upon bis high and glorious eixov, resemblance, similitude”; then there is “intimate connexion, love, and fellowship,” and in the third place, the indwelling of the spirit. “In a word,” he says, “similitude, affection, confidence, intimate connexion, seem to be designated by the appellation Son as applied to Christ.” Now, similitude, as he explains it, has reference to the nature of Christ as God-man, – and means one thing; affection, confidence, mean another; the indwelling of the Spirit something different still. Yet, “in this sense, we are told, the terin is
most frequent in the New Testament.” We repeat the question, In what sense? The whole is an instance of that looseness and confusion of thought which characterize the larger portion of the volume. There is no book we recollect to have ever read, from which, taking a page or half a
- p. 66.
page together, we have found it so difficult to extract a elear, definite, and consistent meaning. The Professor commences the next paragraph by saying,
“But while I am fully satisfied that the term Son of God is oftentimes applied to Christ as a name of nature, as well as of office; yet I am as fully satisfied, that it is not applied to him considered simply as divine, or simply as. Logos. It designates the Oakvoa nos, the God-man, i. e. the complex person of the Messiah, in distinction from his divine nature simply considered, or his Logos state or condition. The exceptions to this are only cases of such a nature, as show that the appellation Son of God became by usage, a kind of proper name, which might be applied either to his human nature, or to his divine one, as well as to his complex person.
The assertion contained in the last period of the above extract is really, we must say, a most extraordinary one, and in direct contradiction to what the Professor has said in the preceding paragraphs, viz., that Christ is called the Son of God, sometimes on account of his miraculous birth, at other times, as the constituted king or Messiah ; again as united with God by affection; and lastly as partaking of his spirit without measure, and the sharer of his secrets. These are not instances in which the term is applied as kind of proper name.
Yet the Professor now tells us that the cases in which it is so applied, that is, as a proper name, furnish the only exceptions to the general principle according to which it is used to designate the nature of Christ as God-man. But let this pass. What evidence, we would ask, have we that it is ever used to designate the nature, or complex person of the Messiah as “God-man?" Where is the proof that it refers to the personal nature of the Messiah, and not to office? The Professor offers none, not a particle. To be sure, he directs our attention to those passages in which Christ is said to be the brightness of the Father's glory, and express image of his person, the image of the invisible God; he quotes the Apostle as saying, that it pleased the Father that in him all fulness should dwell. But will the Professor undertake to assert seriously that these and similar expressions prove that Christ had a complex, that is, a divine-human person? And, admitting that he had it, where are we told that he is called Son of God, as being such a person, and not simply in virtue of his character and N. S. VOL. X. NO. I.